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Ninety year old Bradnop man Derek Pearn takes to the sky in a glider

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 28, 2014

  • Derek gets ready to take off.

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A VETERAN pilot who protected Arctic convoys during the Second World War has celebrated his 90 birthday – by taking to the air again.

Last year Derek Pearn of Beaver Hall, Bradnop, said he wanted to pilot a Tiger Moth plane again, take to the sky in a glider and then complete a parachute jump.

For his 89 birthday last year he stepped back in the cockpit to take controls of a Tiger Moth after a 68-year absence, courtesy of his family.

Now Derek has travelled to the Seighford base of Staffordshire Gliding Club to complete his ride in a glider.

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He said: "The glider ride, which was a 90th birthday present from the family, was fantastic.

"My birthday was in May, but I got three months membership so I could complete it when the weather was right.

"We went all over Eccleshall and could see views of Wales. We were up in the air for about an hour.

"The difference of the glider was that there was no noise which meant that the pilot and myself could talk to one another easy. I was able to pilot the glider for a while.

"I have now completed two of my wishes and I still would like to do a parachute jump."

Derek joined the navy in 1942 and then travelled to Canada to train as a pilot for 12 months.

On his return he was transferred to Yeovilton Air Base and then onto an aircraft carrier.

He said: "I was in the Fleet Air Arm protecting the Russian convoys and Allied ships carrying essential items.

"There were 24 of us in the 882 Squadron and 16 of us came back. It was part of life and comradeship where we helped one another. The difficult part was landing the aircraft on the carrier when the waves were lifting the ship high.

"Last year I was talking about the war days to my family and I just said I wondered if I could still fly the aircraft.

"To my total surprise the family then went on to organise a day out at Duxford Air Base in Cambridge, where I was to be taken up in a Tiger Moth.

"Now they have organised the glider event for me. It's like riding a bike; you never forget.

"It was amazing to get back in the cockpit and both trips have been a dream come true."

Derek, who has four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren sadly lost his wife Mary six years ago.

After leaving the forces he qualified as pharmacist in 1948.

He added: "I married in 1948 and lived in Hereford, before getting a job in Manchester as a pharmacy manager.

"We then went on to have our own pharmacy in Hurdsfield near Macclesfield for 32 years.

"When we retired in 2001 we converted a shippon at my daughter and son-in-law's home at Beaver Hall, where I have since helped out in the business."

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